CHESHIRE Police have issued a warning after a spate of telephone scams by organised crime groups saw residents lose thousands of pounds.

A number of cases of courier fraud have been reported across the county in recent weeks.

The con sees a gang member, known as the victim communicator, make a phone call to a vulnerable person claiming to be a police officer or bank worker.

They then persuade their target to cooperate with a fictional operation supposedly designed to gather evidence or identify criminals.

Victims are asked to withdraw money, purchase an expensive item or provide their account details as part of the ‘investigation’.

This is then handed over to a courier on the promise that the cash or goods will be returned.

Detective sergeant Chris Jacques of Cheshire Police’s economic crime unit said: “These fraudsters are extremely convincing and can be very persistent, especially when targeting vulnerable victims.

“Police officers, banks and other such services will never ask you to withdraw money or provide card details, so please do not be taken in by these scams.

“It is important to remember that telephone numbers can be easily spoofed and you should never trust a number displayed on your telephone.

“They may also attempt to ask victims to call back on 999, 101 or 161 to verify that they are genuine – but this is part of the scam and they keep the line open so that the victim continues speak with the scammers, believing that they are genuine officials.

“Anyone who is receiving calls asking for money to be withdrawn and handed over to a courier should call 101 or report it to Action Fraud.”

Action Fraud can be contacted on 0300 123 2040.

Cheshire police and crime commissioner David Keane added: “It is quite concerning that there have been more cases of fraud across Cheshire.

“Fraudsters will stop at nothing for their own criminal gain, and I know that the force will continue to crackdown on the mindless scammers and do everything in their power to bring them to justice.

“I am urging residents to continue to inform family and friends about these callous scams to ensure that no-one else falls victim.”